4. Thomas Hickey Completes the Comeback
The inaugural season for the Islanders at Barclays Center came with some high expectations for any form of postseason success. The team had not won a playoff series in 23 long years since David Volek sunk the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1993, and the Isles finished with 101 points, 47 wins, and 3rd place in the Metropolitan division in what was a promising 2014-15 regular season.
The next year they would finish with 100 points and 45 wins, a very similar finish but this time earning a wild card spot that would pit them against the Atlantic division-winning Florida Panthers, also looking to end their long playoff series win drought.
The Islanders split the first two games of the series in Florida and went down 2-0 early in the game, which was almost 3-0 but was spared with a successful offsides challenge from coach Jack Capuano. New York would end up tying the game at three after being down 3-1 in the second period, and stayed tied throughout regulation.
Thomas Hickey wasn't exactly a high-scoring defenseman during his time on the Island, but he always wore his heart on his chest and always had a clutch gene when it came to overtime. 26% of his goals in both the regular season and playoffs came in overtime, which includes his only career playoff goal assisted by Brock Nelson and Josh Bailey that he buries behind a helpless former Islander goalie Roberto Luongo to send the Barclays Center into an unexpected fury.
"There's not a guy on our team that plays as big as Thomas Hickey," Capuano said. "When you talk about toughness, I've always defined it as taking a hit to make a play. And that's what he does. It's always good to see a guy like that get rewarded."
This game and this goal were turning points in the series considering they came back from multiple two-goal deficits in the second period in what felt like a moment's notice, and they took a 2-1 series lead in a game Panthers fans probably don't want to remember. This was the first playoff victory at Barclays, and almost previewed what would come later on in the series in front of the Brooklyn "faithful."